Sex, booze, cars, and the Internet (5×8 – 3/22/12)


What’s it going to be, NewsCutters: sex, alcohol, or the Internet? The Boston Consulting Group has released a survey including what activities or habits people would give up before they’d give up their Internet access?

To be fair, the survey was more sophisticated than the factoid everyone is focusing on would suggest. The report, The Internet Economy in the G-20, details the impact of a $4.2 trillion “opportunity.” And it says tablets and smartphones will account for four of every five ways by which people connect to the Internet.

The power of exponential growth is illustrated by an ancient fable, repopularized by Ray Kurzweil in his book, The Age of Spiritual Machines. It tells of a rich ruler who agrees to reward an enterprising subject starting with one grain of rice on the first square of a chessboard, then doubling the number of grains on each of the succeeding 63 squares. The ruler thinks he’s getting off easy, and by the thirty-second square, he owes a mound weighing 100,000 kilograms, a large but manageable amount. It’s in the second half of the chessboard that the real fun starts. Quickly, 100,000 becomes 400,000, then 1.6 million, and keeps growing. By the sixty-fourth square, the ruler owes his subject 461 billion metric tons, more than 4 billion times as much as on the first half of the chessboard, and about 1,000 times global rice production in 2010.

The Internet has moved into the second half of the chessboard. (See Exhibit 1.) It has reached a scale and level of impact that no business, industry, or government can ignore. And like any technological phenomenon with its scale and speed, it presents myriad opportunities, which consumers have been quick and enthusiastic to grasp. Businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs)–the growth engine of most economies–have been uneven in their uptake, but they are moving online in increasing numbers and with an increasingly intense commitment

Intense, indeed. Check out how much people value their connection.


(Credit: Boston Consulting Group)

Most people wouldn’t give up sex for the Internet. But if we’re reading this chart correctly, they’d give up sex for their car, which is an entirely different story for another day.

More tech: Why Twitter will get more annoying.


Gas prices in the Twin Cities hit $3.79 this week, some of the highest prices ever at this time of the year, and an analysis by the Associated Press takes fuel away from the argument that domestic oil production could drop prices.

If more domestic oil drilling worked as politicians say, the AP reports today, you’d now be paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline. Instead, you’re paying the highest prices ever for March.

In fact, the more oil companies drilled in the U.S., the higher the prices went.

In North Dakota, they’re drilling for dreams in the Oil Patch. Thousands of men (mostly) are leaving their families looking for a living.

Whatever the reason for the higher gas prices, it’s not because of demand, NPR reports this morning.


We dread paying them, we dread preparing them, but we rarely ask what we did before the U.S. had an income tax.

NPR’s Planet Money examines the history of the income tax today and how politicians overcame logistics, the Constitution, and reluctance to make the income tax the sweeping assessment it now is.

They did it with Donald Duck.

Discussion point: What cartoon character would best explain today’s hot-button issues?


San Diego? Baseball? Who wouldn’t quit his/her job in a second to take the job KARE 11’s Mike Pomeranz is taking?


Why do four words from a lifetime ago carry such meaning today?

(h/t: Open Culture)

Bonus I: In the special category of people who can make your day

Bonus II: Interest in archery is shooting up because of “Hunger Games” mania.


Several states are considering, or have already passed, new legislation on abortion. Wisconsin, for example, recently passed a bill that would specify what physicians can legally say to patients in regards to abortion: Virginia and Idaho both passed bills requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds. Today’s Question: What do you think of recent efforts to more closely regulate how medical professionals provide abortions?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: In the wake of Somalia and Rwanda, the international community set out to define is moral obligations of when to intervene in a country’s internal affairs. We’re seeing those tensions and decisions more than ever prominently play out in the Middle East. What goes into a country’s decision or the United Nation’s decision in deciding when, how and why it should intervene?

Second hour: We know that our DNA is uniquely ours, but do we really own our own genetic information? In biobanks across the country, researchers store millions of genetic samples taken from patients – sometimes without their knowledge – and there are currently no clear guidelines on how to deal with the tissues and findings. What obligation do these researchers have to return samples (and the sometimes unexpected findings from the samples) to patients and their families?

Third hour: Does couples therapy work?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): (tentative) Joel Ario of the Department of Health and Human Services speaking at the Humphrey Center.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: For more than a year, Michele Norris asked people to encapsulate their thoughts in six words on “race cards.” She joins TOTN to discuss the project.

Second hour: Students take standardized tests in grade school, middle school, even high school. Tests that show what they’ve learned, and what they haven’t. So, why not in college?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Pianist Jeremy Denk ponders the intricacies and magic of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Last week, we heard from members of Ojibwe bands who say the grey wolf is an animal respected in their cultural legacy. They’re upset at proposals for a new wolf hunting season in Minnesota. Who are the people interested in hunting and trapping wolves? What’s their motivation? MPR’s Tom Robertson will have the answers.